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Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,189 ratings  ·  228 reviews
Beautiful and brutally honest, Mary Lambert's poetry is a beacon to anyone who's ever been knocked down--and picked themselves up again. In verse that deals with sexual assault, mental illness, and body acceptance, Ms. Lambert's Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across emerges as an important new voice in poetry, providing strength and resilience even in the darkest of times.
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Feiwel & Friends
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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  1,189 ratings  ·  228 reviews

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Whitney Atkinson
This book was splendid and honest and even evoked tears. It's not my new favorite collection, but its discussion of being fat--just one part of such a diverse collection--really spoke to me. I also really enjoyed her writing about sexual assault and mental health and fame, but I most closely related to her poetry about body image. It's hard to quantify this book into a star rating because I consumed it in two sittings and had a pleasant time reading it and underlined a lot of stanzas, but the ...more
AKA three hours of me sobbing
Trauma walks into a bar, orders a whiskey neat... ...more
anna (½ of readsrainbow)
anyway, the audiobook for this is absolutely gorgeous

tw: incest, childhood sexual abuse, rape, attempted suicide, fatphobia
We spend our days in this macabre waltz
That because millions of people would break their legs to stand on a stage like this
That it is somehow not okay to cry

The thing about this type of poetry is it either hits home and shatters you or it is just sort of blah and you forget it as soon as you turn the page.

I really enjoyed a few of these, especially "It Does Not End", but I don't see myself picking this back up when I'm in a mood to be shattered by poetry.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Brought in by the beautiful cover and title, didn't know she was also a musician. ("She Keeps Me Warm")

I think there is a lot to be said about opening yourself up, and writing this candidly, but man, I didn't really attach to any of these poems. The cover title is the most beautiful, lyrical thing about this work... and that's it. "Tips for Fat Girls," I also thought was good.

So hooray for talking about trauma and depression and queer experience, but my boy had it right - musicians can't write
Stacy Fetters
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The fury comes like a wave of ashes and I pretend I am the biggest, most powerful fucking Phoenix and as my hands wrap around the coffee mug in the water I pretend to teleport through time and space to that night and circle around his neck and I say no a whole fuck ton louder than I did."

Powerful poetry about heavy subjects. Speaks from the heart and attacks your soul.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, poetry
3.5-3.75* because the poems I loved, I really, REALLY loved. It was also lovely listening to this on audiobook because I love Marys voice and I think it made me enjoy everything more than if Id only read it. ...more
Nathan Bartos
CW: rape, incest, self-harm, depression, suicide mention(s), anxiety
I am just so in love with everything Mary Lambert does. I didn't know there was an audiobook version until I was messing around on Scrib'd and just ended up stumbling across it. I'm so glad I did because Lambert is such a talented performer, and it was such a great surprise to get to hear her perform her poetry.
There are dark, emotional poems in here. There are happy, funny poems in here. But it never feels disjointed or random.
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guilty admission: I bought this book because Mary Lambert is my celebrity crush. Yeah, I know, celebrity crushes are lame but this woman is gorgeous, and insanely talented, and I'm only human, okay?!
But my God. These poems. THESE POEMS. I laughed, I cried, I laughed while I was crying...
These poems are the truth. The real, ugly, messy side of coping with trauma. Of surviving rape. Of surving bipolar (and if you dont think a person survives bipolar, DAILY, you sir, can eat a bag of dicks).
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2019-reads
I respected the rawness of Mary Lamberts poems - she writes about having experienced abuse as a young child, rape, body image and mental health issues. It reminded me of Milk and Honey, or Heartberries. Not my preferred style, but one that is likely to speak to many readers. ...more
I actually DNF'ed this, but got too far not to count it as read.

Maybe this just wasn't for me?

Jun 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
The audiobook of this was amazing. Loved that they put music under it, and I could honestly listen to Mary's voice for a lifetime. There were many bits in this that really touched me, either because they were beautifully written or I could just recognise myself in them or both, but I also quite loved looking into the mind of someone I am not at all like.
Tammy V
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
By chance, browsing, I picked this up at the library. Finished it and ordered my own copy. Finding a new poetic voice is a glorious gift, a treasure, a treat. And this was chance.

How to review poetry?

Lambert writes ruthlessly, directly, searingly. She uses repeating motifs (you notice the recurrence as you read through the chapbook which gives you a pleasing 160+ pages to chew on). The theme is incest, gang rape, hating your body, and, yes, even love, and redemption. I know: depressing. But it
My review is LIVE on my blog; it's a very personal review, and contains some discussion of my own mental health and body image issues, but I hope it encourages more people to pick up this collection.

My Review <3
chantel nouseforaname
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
So, I mean there were moments where I rolled my eyes at some of the content here and there were moments where I high-fived the air where I wish Mary's hand was because some of her lines were so on point and deep for me. I highlighted numerous moments like that.

You can tell that Mary feels things deeply, especially things where her body and the body of others who are constantly dissected fits. I can fuck with that. I love those kinds of deep thoughts! The rest of her issues around being newly
cw: mentions of incest, childhood sexual abuse, rape, attempted suicide, fatphobia

this was intense.
this was as beautiful
as it was intense
as it was heartbreaking
as it was heartwarming.
this was true vulnerability and putting all of your cards on the table.
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an immensely painful read. Courageous, but ow. Some of her imagery is so beautiful, and when I was randomly flipping through poems at the store before I picked this up I managed to find maybe the only 3 funny lines in the book. The rest of it makes you feel like your organs are getting sucked out of your chest cavity and thrown into a blender, still attached to your esophagus, and then placed back in your body, which may have been how Mary Lambert felt while writing this poetry. If that ...more
Mar 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly beautiful, raw, and dark.
If you can, listen to the audiobook. Mary's voice is very soothing and engrossing.
Nov 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lovely and heartbreaking all the way through.

Ive never been so great at living,
I just repeatedly succeed at opening my eyes.
This took me a while to read because I had to put it down after a few poems. Mary Lamberts writing is so honest and raw that I could every single emotion when I was reading and it made my heart ache.
Heavy. Heartbreaking. Raw. I feel like a bit of a puddle--exposed in those ways where I resonated with the pain she's experienced, and just so sad thinking about the things she's been through that are so, so removed from my life that I just can't fathom it. Her experiences with her father. I found her way of using analogy really striking, and often had to chew on certain poems for a little while to process them.

The only thing I felt was difficult was just how sad the book is. Which, it's her
Jul 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
God Damn You, Sarah McLachlan was my favorite poem.

dont look at me like that
like i can do better
like this sadness is a well that I jumped into on purpose
nothing is on purpose

Ive never been so great at living,
I just repeatedly succeed at opening my eyes

I suppose
everyone is okay, depending on what your
calibration of pain is

i made myself a rose of clay around you, and now
i cannot fit the mold to a different cast,
my memory is a crooked wheel that perpetuates sadness
my memory is in love with you

Feb 19, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2020
Alright, thanks to my book riot reading challenge I had to listen to an audiobook of poetry. I listened to this book read by the author. It was beautiful with lovely music in the background. I cried a couple of times and a couple of times I thought.... Hmmmm I don't get this one. I really enjoyed some of her poems about mental illness and body image. I would just say that even if it isn't this one, try to listen to an audiobook of poetry - it really changes the feel of the poems.
Sep 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars

An impactful, striking, shiver-inducing autobiographical collection of poems that discuss sexual assault and its aftermath, falling in love, heartbreak, mental illness, and survival. There were several poems in this collection that made me pause, re-read, and take a moment to consider how Lambert used so few words to say so much. Her writing style is sometimes fluid and sometimes jarring; the poems are relatable and very readable but contain a lot of depth. I'd definitely recommend this
Samantha A
Mar 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. An absolutely brilliant, beautiful, and emotional book of poetry. Do yourself a favor and listen to the audiobook. Mary had me crying for most of this book, and this is definitely a piece i will be revisiting many times.
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heartbreaking and raw and stunning.

I know so much of her pain and it makes me feel connected to her, like there is someone out there who hurts and loves just as deeply.

Lots of poetry books now days are uninspired imitations, but this was truly beautiful.
I urge you to listen to the audiobook for this one! so powerful!
Maríah Santos
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
SO fucking RAW.
Georgia Call
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I feel 2 stars is unfair. Poetry is an art and everyone has their own preferences. This one didnt just speak to me, but that shouldnt stop someone else from giving it a read ...more
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Queer Book Review: Shame is an Ocean... 1 2 Sep 29, 2019 07:26AM  

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In 2012, Mary Lambert was working three restaurant jobs when her life changed. An aspiring singer-songwriter, cellist, spoken word artist, and newly graduated with a Bachelors of Music Composition from Cornish College of the Arts, she had begun to establish herself around Seattle, performing slam poetry and fusing a talk-singing style into her intimate performances. She received a phone call from ...more

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When it comes to mysteries and thrillers, we're all guilty of loving a good trope from time to time. From "The butler did it!" to "They all did...
155 likes · 43 comments
“Just because I evolved, doesn’t mean I am spineless.
Just because I am malleable, doesn’t mean I am undeserving”
“Have you ever seen a stampede of horses?
Do you wonder what the hooves
look like from underneath?
Have you tasted the blood from biting
your own lips because you
couldn’t say no loud enough?

I never fought back. I didn’t punch him. I kept my
thighs tight and closed, but once he’s inside you,
you wish you were a streetlamp.
A seat belt.
A box of nails, of rust, something hard and ruined.
You’ll wish you were a wild pony, a slick fish on a line,
anything but a woman.

Once he’s inside you, you just kind of give up
and your eyes glaze over.
They stay that way for years”
More quotes…